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20 Easy Things to Declutter When Overwhelmed

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Are you exhausted emotionally and/or physically yet still want an organized home? This list of 20 easy things to declutter when overwhelmed will change your life!

list of 20 easy things to declutter when you're overwhelmed

I’ve thought about writing this post for months, but the truth is I have health struggles and feelings of overwhelm.

I love teaching may readers how to declutter after a death or loss or the secret to decluttering sentimental items.

But my real heart is to help you see the connection between clutter and grief and how to get unstuck.

Why is this so important to me? Because I’ve been where you are and still struggle with the overwhelm that comes from too much stuff and not enough time or energy.

My 53-year-old sister Brenda passed away unexpectedly in 2000 from a massive heart attack. It broke our hearts and changed everything for my family.

I became a substitute mom for my then 20-year-old niece Jennifer. Together we walked through the process of dealing with all the pieces of my sister’s life, both physical and emotional.

To sort through all the remnants of a life cut short by unknown heart disease devastated us. Busy years were also spent raising my new family (a sibling group of three by adoption and our two bio kids.)

Vintage pictures and memorabilia of sister to help with things to declutter when overwhelmed

Time spent consoling my niece and just surviving kept me from processing the grief.

My mom and dad moved into nursing care at the end of 2007 and my dad passed away in 2009. Mom moved to an assisted living home (she didn’t need as much care at the time) and passed away on Christmas Eve 2010.

Due to nursing home neglect, my mom wandered outside the locked doors of her facility in the middle of the night and died from hypothermia. It was just one more tragedy to add to our family’s pain.

Pic of older mom and daughter

The year of my 30th wedding anniversary my marriage fell apart, the final piece that caused me to seek counseling for the wounds and griefs that overwhelmed me.

In the middle of this process I was diagnosed with the Epstein Barr Virus and chronic exhaustion became my constant companion.

I’m wondering if you can relate? Is your life filled with too many responsibilities and not enough time? Do you need some easy solutions for getting your home under control a little bit at a time?

Craft room with binders of scrapbook paper and blue drawers

Craft room/home office in a closet

If this is you, I’m here to help! My DIY husband and I have done major projects (such as totally gutting our kitchen and creating an office in a closet) and many smaller ones (like our small linen closet makeover and a DIY headboard from a closet door.)

Ranch style kitchen with wall taken down and large island with chairs

Ranch style home kitchen remodel

But we’re getting older and we’ve both struggled with health problems that have affected our ability and desire to do projects.

After reading so many of my readers comments, I believe we all need easy, manageable tasks that can be done as we feel up to it and have the time.

20 things to declutter when overwhelmed includes an open farmhouse bathroom

Small farmhouse bathroom remodel

I totally understand how hard it is to just GET STARTED when you’re struggling physically and/or emotionally.

***So I created a FREE PRINTABLE to give you 20 easy things to declutter when overwhelmed! The list is in no particular order so start wherever you’d like!

Here are my best tips for decluttering and organizing if you face health or emotional struggles like I do.

20 Easy Things to Declutter when Overwhelmed

  1. Gather any materials needed ahead of time.
  2. Evaluate how you feel and how much time you have to devote to a project.
  3. Put on some music or a podcast that inspires you.
  4. Begin by discarding items first.
  5. Check off the completed project on the list!

20 Easy Things to Declutter When Overwhelmed

Gather any materials needed ahead of time.

If you need trash bags or organizers make sure you have these on hand before you start. We don’t want to waste precious time searching for supplies!

Blue and gray baskets for linen closet storage

Small linen closet makeover

Evaluate how you feel and how much time you have to devote to a project.

Honestly, you’re the only one who knows how much time and effort you can invest in an area at any given time. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re only able to take 10 minutes and tackle an area. Ten minutes is better than nothing!

Once you’ve decided on the amount of available time set a timer. If it goes off and you’re feeling in the groove keep going!

Woman's closet with messy storage for clothes

Put on some music or a podcast that inspires you.

You might not “feel” up to the task but I know for sure that putting on worship music or a fun podcast helps the time go by faster and gives me energy.

Begin by discarding items first.

If you’re tackling a junk drawer throw away all the pens and accessories that serve no purpose. We want to whittle down all the things we don’t need!

messy kitchen accessory drawer

If there’s something that belongs somewhere else in the house go ahead and take it to its home right then! Don’t procrastinate or make more piles!

Check off the completed project on the list!

I don’t know if you’re like me, but I’m a list maker. I’ll put things on the list just so I can check them off and feel the rush of success!

Make sure you get your free printable here!

If this post has spoken to you, would you let me know? Just comment below how I can help you right where you are. You are not alone!

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25 Comments

  1. This post is perfectly timed and has spoken to me on every level Marty! I have chronic reactivated Epstein Barr and fight the challenges of overwhelming fatigue every day, so if anyone understands that struggle, it’s me! Thank you for sharing this post and for all your tips; it’s like it was written for me and is the boost I need right now :).

  2. I can totally relate! I had to back off a lot in order to be happy and not stressed . Social media is a biggy but I love doing projects. There is a fine line.

    1. Thank you for this post. Although I’m not grieving a tragic loss, I’m a small business owner that is currently overwhelmed, the pandemic has been good for my industry. That’s the good news, but it is also very stressful. My workshop, my home and my yard are all out of control. Maybe your post will get me back on track. Thanks Nancy

      1. Hi, Nancy. The pandemic has been difficult for most of us, but it’s good we have online businesses during this season of unknowns. I definitely understand the stress and not wanting to face my home. I’m really preaching to myself!

    2. Hi, Maria. Social media makes me crazy and I just have to do it as I’m inspired. I don’t like the pressure of having to live up to a certain standard. Probably why I’ll always be a small blogger but I’m ok with that!

  3. Marty the last few years have been a lot like the ones you described. I am tired and can’t seem to get all the physical challenges around our home. This is a great list. It breaks my heart to think of your mom being neglected like that…Loving thoughts

    1. Thanks so much, Deana. God has definitely given me a story to carry and use for His glory but I’ve had to work through lots of feelings! I understand the exhaustion as well. Big hugs!

  4. I try to do little things when on hold. Pitch out extra plastic silverware from the drawer. Wipe off cabinet fronts. It’s amazing what you can do in 5 minutes. If I just would do it.

    1. Great ideas, Rosemary. I think we can’t understand how much just a few little easy projects will help our feeling about our home and lives!

  5. This is such a great help. Having a specific list is always helpful. Just having a point of reference is a great starting point makes all the difference.
    I am sorry for all the tragic losses and stress that comes with that. Grieving is so different for each individual. Thanks for sharing your heart, Marty.

  6. Hey Marty!
    I have no idea how I ever ended up on your mailing list. It might have been a couple months ago when I became interested in chalk painting.
    I love to get your emails for more reasons than one; I’m only 38 have 6 daughters, (4 young adults 18-21, and two elementary aged. We had his, mine, then ours~2+2+2), a huge extended family that I do not know very well and we’ve never really kept in contact, my two grandmothers who were more like a mother to me, one whom passed in 2007 broke my heart because I had finally moved in visiting distance and she passed the same year, but I received a belated birthday card from her after she passed ?. My mom and dad are alcoholic/addicts – I disowned my mom and so did all of my sisters as well as her own mother… and my dad, well I talk to him about twice a year since I put him in his place. He was a mental/ verbal abuser. My mom was a physical abuser. I am the only child from them, but I have 5 half sisters who I love we just don’t live close to each other, nor do we talk often but we are connected on Facebook and that is where we do most of our interactions.
    So you see I love to read your stuff and learn from you because I am missing that concrete role model in my life that would have guided me throughout my life. So thank you for your help!
    I am a list maker that’s for sure! Except I feel like Einstein with piles of clutter everywhere, which is actually an organized mess in which I know where everything is until someone has to move it or it gets gone through. Then I feel violated and can’t find a darn thing haha. And I’m the one who makes piles while decluttering then I have piles of more work to tackle which is exhausting!
    I’ve been doing better as to put things away when I’m done with it, but there’s always something or someday where I was in a rush and it became a disaster over time.
    Now I am eager to start decluttering! Thanks!!!
    -Tara

    1. Hi, Tara. Thanks for sharing your heart with me. Our childhood has such an effect on our relationships and especially our home life as adults. I’m glad I can be a source of encouragement to you in whatever area you need it. I certainly understand what it’s like to have relationships that aren’t always healthy. Good luck and God bless you!

  7. Marty, your faithfulness to the Lord throughout the very difficult and painful seasons of your life is such a testament to so many who are watching your journey. I rejoice with you over your victories and I mourn with you over your losses. I know God is making beauty from pain and I appreciate your dedication to still encourage and help others even as you overcome your own struggles! You are living proof of God’s Word and a physical proof of what being an overcomer and more than a conqueror through the power of Jesus means. I look forward to standing near you at the Bema judgment and seeing the rewards you are given. Love you sister! Lifting you up!!

    1. This was such a sweet comment, Sarah. It’s good to see Jesus being lifted up in spite of me and through me! Love watching your own journey on Facebook! My love to your family <3

  8. I love the idea of just doing what you can! Ten minutes of decluttering is better than nothing!! I’m going to get started now!!

  9. I have been getting rid of things I no longer need. Thanks for your ideas, it actually makes you feel free!

  10. I was sitting here cleaning out my email when your post popped up! I have also started making lists which is very unusual for me. I have been giving my not to messy junk drawer the stink eye for nearly a week so it will go too. I too have severe Chronic Fatigue and severe Fibro. Monday I am making an appointment with Johns Hopkins to get a mass in my pancreas biopsied. But I (for once in my life) am calm. I have dug deeper into my faith and given the chaos, pain and hurt to G-d. That is my sanity for now and I intend to go deeper into that wonderful as long as I can hold it and see it. G-d tells us over and over again to Fear Not. Took a while for it to take but I finally am at peace with the uncertainty of the chaos of this world. Sending big hugs and much love Marty!

  11. I was feeling so overwhelmed today – so many responsibilities and not enough time. Then Psalms 55:22 popped up on the Bible app on my phone: Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken and shortly thereafter I ran across your post. I believe God is sending me a message! Thanks for your insight!

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